The Stranger Beside You

The Stranger Beside You
March 17, 2013
 
By: Samantha Bevins
Staff Writer, Tampa Bay

I
magine that you have been working alongside a wonderful co-worker for years--in your eyes, they're both kind and friendly, with excellent manners and a bright future ahead of them. If you had to tell anyone about this co-worker, whom you also consider a dear friend, it would be nothing but high praise. One day you are face with facts that prove otherwise and you have to face the cold truth that your beloved friend, your co-worker, is a serial killer. Ann Rule was devastated beyond disbelief when she discovered her male co-worker was a suspect in a string of homicides that sent the Northwest United States into a panic in the 1970's.
 
Once upon a time in the 1960's, Ann was a police officer in the Seattle metro-area. Ann experienced criminal activity while on the ‘beat’ for the tenure of her career, and after she retired from the police force she had a difficult time separating this from her lifestyle. While Ann had always had an interest in true crime, it never crossed her mind that this interest would turn into a full-fledged career. Ann never imagined that her friend Ted was a cold-blooded serial murder.
 
Theodore Robert Bundy was notoriously known for killing over 30 women across the United States. Police investigators believe he could be responsible for close to 100 homicides. Ted was handsome, well mannered, articulate, and a law student. No one who knew him ever believed he would be capable of luring women to his VW Volkswagen and killing them with murderous rage.

When Ted’s murder spree began in Seattle in the early 1970’s, Ann worked alongside him at a Crisis Center Hotline. The two usually worked the third shift together on the weekends. There were many weekends when Ann was alone with Ted; she watched him counsel and convince others their lives were worthwhile during the time they needed it the most. Ted would often walk Ann to her car when they got off their shift. Ann has declared numerous times that when Ted was brought forth as a suspect she never once believed he was guilty.
 
At the time of the Bundy murders, Ann Rule was also working alongside the King County [Seattle] Police Department by doing investigative research on local crime activity. Ann was familiar with the process from her days as a police officer and she often went for ride-a-longs with her former colleagues. It was during this time that her curiosity piqued to the numerous murders of young women in the Seattle area.  Ann was assigned by the police department to collect information on these murders and try to piece it together. This research would lead Ann to authoring her first true crime novel. Ted Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989 for the murder of a 12-year-old girl, Kimberly Leach, and two other young women of the Chi Omega Sorority at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Ann has described the day of Bundy’s execution in her novel as one she will never forget because it was when she finally realized that her well-mannered and kind friend was actually guilty.

Our nation is infatuated with true crime. There are countless television shows, movies, video games and other portrayals in the media that revolve around crime. Some read is for leisure while others read it for research purposes. Ann Rule's story is different. Ann Rule’s book titled “The Stranger Beside Me”  is her account of her friendship with Bundy, his life and the events that eventually led up to his capture and execution. Ann has often cited the irony of the entire situation with Ted Bundy. Ann cannot fathom, even after 30-some odd years later, she once befriended and worked alongside a man who committed such atrocious acts.
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